Social Security disability insurance is an important financial resource for Americans who live with serious disabilities which prevent them from engaging in gainful work. As important as SSDI is, though, it is important for folks to realize that it should not be counted on as a primary source of income in the event one develops a serious disability or illness which changes their life.
There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, SSDI is not easy to qualify for and not everybody who has a serious illness or disability is going to qualify. Meeting the various requirements for disability insurance is not something anybody can do. Second, those who do ultimately qualify for benefits, most of the time, don’t receive them right away. In some cases it takes months or even years to receive benefits after multiple appeals. In the latter case, one will have financial needs that are not met for some time even if one does qualify.
For this reason, it is important for everybody to take seriously the suggestion to obtain long-term disability insurance. Unfortunately, although long-term disability insurance used to be a common offering of employers, it is increasingly happening that employers are either decreasing payouts and leaving it to employees to purchase more coverage, or simply offering nothing and giving employees the option of purchasing long-term disability insurance. This, of course, increasingly means that employees are faced with the decision of deciding whether to purchase long-term disability coverage, or whether to purchase more.
There are a number of things to consider when purchasing long-term disability coverage. One thing we will say here is that long-term disability payments do not reduce one’s SSDI payments, so those who do potentially qualify for SSDI will not have their SSDI payment lowered on that account. The reverse may or may not be true, however, depending on the terms of the policy.
Source: Boston Globe, “Employers easing back on long-term disability insurance,” Ron Lieber, September 13, 2014.